Albert Pike

Albert Pike's 1870 33° Ritual

Pike_33rd_page_1_webAlbert Pike (1809-1891), Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite’s Southern Jurisdiction from 1859 to 1891, revised all of the Scottish Rite degree rituals, including the 33°, during his tenure. A handsomely bound book, containing Pike's reworked version of the 33°, was presented to the Supreme Council, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (NMJ) in 1870. This manuscript version of Pike's 33° ritual is currently on view in the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives reading room exhibition, Secret Scripts: Masonic and Fraternal Ritual Books, at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.

The inscription (see below) inside the book reads:

This Copy is most respectfully Presented to the Supreme Council of the Northern Jurisdiction of the U.S., by special permission of M∴ P∴ Albert Pike, Sov∴ Gr∴  Commander of the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction, U.S., by RMCGraham, 33° Gr∴ Rep∴, New York, March 19, 1870.

Robert McCoskry Graham (1830-1890) was an Active Member of the NMJ's Supreme Council and Grand Representative from that Supreme Council to the Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction (SJ) from 1867 until his death in 1890. Graham lived in New York City and was actively involved in both the SJ's and NMJ's Supreme Councils.

In June 1870, three months after Graham inscribed the Pike ritual to the NMJ's Supreme Council, Albert Pike attended the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction's annual meeting, held that year in Cincinnati, Ohio. Although Sovereign Grand Commanders from the NMJ and the SJ regularly attend each other's annual meetings today, Pike observed in 1870 that "It is, I think, the first time when the Grand Commander of one of our Supreme Councils has been present at a session of the other..." Although the 33° was conferred upon fourteen men at the 1870 annual meeting, the NMJ's annual Proceedings from 1870 do not indicate whether the Committee on Rituals had adopted the Pike ritual and whether that was the version of the 33° ritual that was used.

Pike_33rd_inscription_page_webThat Graham would have presented the ritual to the NMJ's Supreme Council is unsurprising. Not only was Graham the NMJ's Grand Representative to the SJ's Supreme Council, he was also close friends with Pike. Pike himself wrote the obituary for Graham that was published in the SJ's Official Bulletin. The obituary (later reprinted in Pike's collection of obituaries, Ex Corde Locutiones) is dated March 10, 1891 - less than a month before Pike's own death. Writing about Graham, Pike not only makes it clear that Graham was a friend, but that he was intimately involved with the activities of the Southern Jurisdiction's Supreme Council: "During the last ten years he had regularly been present at our sessions, feeling like one of us, and looked upon by us as one of ourselves, so much so that he sat with us in our confidential sessions, always welcomed and beloved by all."

The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction used Pike’s 33° ritual from 1870 until 1880, at which point they adopted Charles T. McClenachan’s revision of Pike’s ritual. A version of this ritual was used until 1938, when the Supreme Council approved a rewritten ritual composed by then-Sovereign Grand Commander Melvin M. Johnson. It is a version of this ritual that the NMJ's Supreme Council still uses today.

For further reading:

de Hoyos, Arturo. “On the Origins of the Prince Hall Scottish Rite Rituals,” Heredom 5 (1996): 51-67. [In this article about how the NMJ assisted in the production of the United Supreme Council (PHA)'s book of Scottish Rite rituals, de Hoyos, using primary sources in the collection of the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives, provides a few concise paragraphs (pp.60-61) on the development of the NMJ's 33rd degree through the nineteenth century.]


Albert Pike, Manuscript Ritual for the 33°, 1870, Washington, D.C., Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Collection, R-40.

Leo Taxil and Baphomet

TAXIL POSTER_cropped_web

Many people find the image on this poster a little creepy. It's supposed to be.  

It's even more startling when you see it in person - it's about 4' x 3' - and it's the first thing you see when you walk into the reading room for the Library and Archives new exhibition, Freemasonry Unmasked!: Anti-Masonic Collections in the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives.

The arresting goat-headed image on this poster is Baphomet, an invention by Éliphas Lévi (1810-1875) for his 1856 book, Dogma and Ritual of High Magic. Anti-Catholic writer Léo Taxil later incorporated Lévi’s Baphomet figure into an elaborate hoax which falsely linked Freemasonry with devil-worship. Taxil, whose real name was Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pagès, sought to publicly embarrass the Catholic Church, which was traditionally opposed to Freemasonry, by winning their sympathy through his anti-Masonic hoax and then revealing it all to be an outlandish lie. Although shown here wearing a Masonic apron, Baphomet has no association with Freemasonry.

This poster was printed by Edward Ancourt & Co., a Parisian firm that today is well-known for having printed many of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's posters. The poster is an advertisement for an anti-Masonic book written by Leo Taxil, entitled The Mysteries of Freemasonry Unveiled. The French text at the top of poster translates to "At all the bookstores and newspaper shops." The text below the image indicates that the book was sold in parts ("livraison") - a common way of publishing books in the late nineteenth century. As a lure to get book-buyers to purchase the book, the publisher indicates that the first part is free ("La 1.ere livraison est gratuite..."). The French word for "free" - GRATUITE - is hard to miss.


Baphomet has proven an irresistable image to anti-Masons ever since Taxil first falsely associated the figure with Freemasonry. As recently as the early 1990s, Jack T. Chick used the image on one of his "Chick Tracts," called The Curse of Baphomet, pictured here. In this booklet, Chick uses a quote that has been falsely attributed to well-known Freemason Albert Pike (1809-1891) that “Lucifer is God.” Léo Taxil made the quote up in the 1890s.  Taxil's fabricated Pike quote has been repeated many times in print, and a quick web search reveals that this fabricated quote has made the leap from books to websites. 

If you're interested in learning more about anti-Masonry, be sure to check out the annotated bibliography available at our website. One book that appears on that bibliography, Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry?: The Methods of Anti-Masonsis available in its entirety online. The authors, S. Brent Morris and Arturo de Hoyos, do an excellent job exploring the source of many anti-Masonic claims, including both the fabricated Albert Pike quote and Baphomet.

Les Mystères de la Franc-Maçonnerie Dévoilés par Léo Taxil [The Mysteries of Freemasonry Unveiled by Léo Taxil], ca. 1886, Printed by Edw. Ancourt & Co., Paris, France, Chromolithograph on paper.
National Heritage Museum, Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives, A2000/80/1, Museum purchase. Photograph by David Bohl.

The Curse of Baphomet, 1991, Published by Chick Publications, Ontario, California
National Heritage Museum, Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives, Vertical Files.